The Wonderful Birch
Angelique Schmidt p-3 11/9/15
IN THE BEGINNING
SUMMARY OF STORY
The king of the palace orders a great festival and everyone is invited, but the witch does not allow the birch's daughter to go. Instead, she is given chores which she completes with her mother help, then hurries away to the festival after her mother gives her a new dress and stead. Upon her entrance, the girl fascinates the young prince, who accidently breaks the witch's daughter's arm thinking it was a dog. When the sky darkens, the girl returns home hastily, but accidently forgets her ring.
The next day she is given more work, but she finishes with her mother's help, then returns to the festival with finer items. Again, she amazes the prince, who this time breaks the witch's daughter's leg. And during the evening, the girl returns home, but without her tiara.
On the third and final day, the girl receives the most work, and yet again, the birch tree guides her. She makes her way to the festival, where the witch's daughter loses her eye, and meets the prince. On this trip, she loses her pair of shoes. The prince calls for a kingdom-wide search to find the maiden that the ring, circlet, and shoes fit. The witch, being as sneaky as she is, replaces her daughter's broken leg, arm, and missing eye with wood, then reapportions them so they fit the items.
Unwillingly, the prince takes the witch's daughter, but upon his exiting, he recognizes the birch's daughter. He takes both women with him, but abandons the witch's daughter at a river, who promptly turns into a golden hemlock.
A while later, the birch's daughter births a son, and the witch comes to visit her, thinking it's actually her daughter. Along the way, she meets her actual daughter, then goes to turn the birch's daughter into a deer. The girl runs into the woods, leaving the crying son to the prince.
Saddened, the prince searches for the deer with an old widow, who is able to make the deer return. The deer returns to nurse her son, but then leaves. The next night, the widow makes the deer reappear, then persuades the deer to allow her to brush the deer's hair. The birch's daughter removes her "deer skin" so the widow may comb her hair while the prince burns the skin.
The birch's daughter is upset, but alas, she comes home with them, where they live happily ever after.
CONTENT OF TEXT
The story of The Wonderful Birch exemplifies the Russian values of obedience, self-sacrifice, and dedication.
Obedience: Obedience is a valuable attribute to the Russian culture because it ensures that if you obey and listen to your superiors or orders, you will receive true happiness. This value is interpreted in the story through the birch's daughter, because she listens to her mother, and by doing so, she is given beautiful items.
Self-Sacrifice: In addition to obedience, self sacrifice is also an essential value to Russia. When you are willing to sacrifice yourself for someone you care of for an idea, you yourself become more respected and acknowledged. It is shown when the mother-turned-birch-tree sacrifices her branches for her daughter's happiness.
Dedication: Finally, dedication is an important value, as well. If you try hard at something, and continue giving your best, you will have a higher chance of gaining happiness and success. Dedication is expressed by the witches efforts to make her daughter appeal to the prince, and by the witch's daughter trying to please her mother.
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